Terminology

South African rock art was made by different communities: San hunters and gatherers (Bushmen) and, in all probability, Khoikhoi pastoralists. Another tradition of rock art was made by black farmers; it is known as the late white tradition. Please read our introduction to the rock art of Africa for more.

The San belong to a group called the Khoisan, which is made up of the Khoikhoi (or Khoekhoen) and the San or Bushmen.

When we use the terms Bushman or San, we need to bear in mind that both terms are derogatory. Even though Bushman is seen a lot in the literature, San is the commonly preferred and accepted term in South Africa. From the Nama language, Sa means "a person who forages for food", in other words a hunter-gatherer. Moreover, if you add the plural suffix –n, it becomes "forager people". Regrettably, the word has acquired the derogatory connotation of "vagabond".

Tracings (T). A tracing is an exact copy of a rock painting or engraving. Paintings are traced using a fine pencil on architect's film. Engravings are traced using a fine marker pen on plastic sheeting. This technique is used to record faint and minute details that photography cannot easily capture. These details often provide important clues to the meaning of the depictions.

On the database, T is the abbreviation for tracing. It is used in images IDs to denote the image is a tracing, eg <1T>.

Redrawing (R). Tracings are redrawn in black ink using different sized stipples to indicate colour. On the database, R is the abbreviation for redrawing, eg <2R>.

Other image formats are indicated on the database using the following codes:

35mm colour slides have no code, eg <1>.
Digital photographs are coded with a D, eg <8D>.
Artistic renderings are coded with an AR, eg <1AR>.
Photographs, either black or colour, are coded with a P, eg <5P>.
Medium format transparencies and negatives are coded with an H, eg <4H>.
Historical Copies are coded with an HC, eg <71HC>.
Carbon Copies are coded with a CP, eg <1CP>.

Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from South Africa are coded with RSA, eg <1T>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Mozambique are coded with MOZ, eg <1R>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Swaziland are coded with SWZ, eg <1D>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Lesotho are coded with LES, eg <1>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Botswana are coded with BOT, eg <6>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and son on, from Tanzania are coded with TAN, eg <1>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Zambia are coded with ZAM, eg <15>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Namibia are coded with NAM, eg <2>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Malawi are coded with MAL, eg <3>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Kenya are coded with KEN, eg <3>.
Slides, tracings, redrawings, historical copies and so on, from Uganda are coded with UGA, eg <1>.

Keywords

Paintings – The term painting is used here instead of pictogram.
Engravings – The term engraving is used here instead of petroglyph.

Readings:

Lewis-Williams, JD and Dowson, TA. 1989. Images Of Power: Understanding San Rock Art. Southern Book Publishers, Johannesburg.
Lewis-Williams, JD 1990. Discovering Southern African Rock Art. David Philip Publishers, Cape Town.
Lewis-Williams, JD and Blundell, G. 1998. Fragile Heritage: A Rock Art Fieldguide. University of the Witwatersrand Press, Johannesburg.
Lewis-Williams, JD 2000. Stories That Float From Afar: Further Specimens of 19th Century Bushman Folklore. David Philip Publishers, Cape Town.
Lewis-Williams, JD. 2003. Images of Mystery. Double Storey, Cape Town.
Lewis-Williams, JD and Pearce, DG. 2004. San Spirituality: Roots, Expressions and Social Consequences. Creda Communications, Epping, Cape Town.